TOMMY MANDEL - a biography

    Born in New York City a good while ago, Tommy began studying music at the age of six, in suburban New York. He took ten years of piano lessons, and mutated at the age of sixteen, joining and forming a series of bands performing Dixieland, James Brown, and Beatles-Stones music along the East Coast in the sixties. He studied songwriting with Paul Simon at NYU in 1969-70 in a class which included the Roches. After receiving his degree from Bowdoin College in Maine,where he played in a blues band and studied Music History, Theory, Electronic Music, and Orchestration, he found work at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., accompanying classes combining Theater, Song and Dance, and composing music and songs for several original John Braswell theater productions, a position he held for seven years. He is now Musical Director of their Theater Department. During this earlier period, while represented by the William Morris Agency and signed to Epic Records (by Stephen Paley,) he wrote two Pop-Operas, "Joe's Opera" and "Sea of Simile," the former being twice optioned for Broadway production, and staged at both Cafe LaMama, and the Stuart Ostrow Musical Theater Lab at St. Clement's N.Y.C. They were both directed by John Braswell, R.I.P., but the St. Clements' production was directed by Robert Allan Ackerman. A third show, "The Maurice LaRue Rhythm Revue"©, was mounted at Sarah Lawrence in 1979, and when restaged could unite Rock Music and Cabaret Theater in a way not yet seen on Earth. Right...A children's opera, "Animal Stew," was co-written and produced with Bobby Puleo a few years later.
 Next, Mandel toured the US and Canada with the National Lampoon Travelling Road Show; he traveled to West Berlin with the Rock Revue, "Shindig 77" and returned a few months later to form an "international all-star blues band," with musicians from England, Poland, and West Germany.
    The following year, while preparing to record Ellen Foley's debut album, he met Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, two Brits who were putting together a band after their David Bowie experiences. He played on three albums and three tours with them, and began to make the contacts that led to his work on many records over the years. Mandel's touring experience includes stints with Ian Hunter-Mick Ronson (79-81), David Johansen (post- NY Dolls, but before he became Buster Pointdexter... in 1980), Sylvain Sylvain (a Dolls mate of Johansen,) Dire Straits (82-83), Todd Rundgren -Ian Hunter-Mike Shrieve (1980), John Waite (84-85), Peter Wolf (86), Little Steven, (86), Bryan Adams, (88-98), and Richie Sambora and Friends (98), as well as local (New York City) gigs with Bo Diddley, Lou Christie, Paul Butterfield, Elaine Caswell, and Otis Rush, not to mention The Miami's, whose torrid gigs at CBGB's and Broadway Charlie's bar in the Village landed them on the Live At CBGB's compilation. A list of his credits as a studio musician (sideman,) can be found at
    Early in his touring career, Mandel formed a production team with Wayne Vlcan and JP that resulted in the EP, "Tommy Mandel", released in 1981 on Songshop Records, and distributed by Important; he was chosen by WNEW-FM, NYC, as a Prisoner of Rock and Roll for it. In addition to the four songs contained on the EP, seven others were recorded, and found their way on to the psychedelic travelog, " " This has recently been re-released on Invisible City Editions, in vinyl. In 1984, Mandel released "Music for Insomniacs," a nine song collection of primitive pieces created with the intention of making a pleasing pastel sonic backdrop that could be useful in falling asleep, or simply relaxing at home. This tape has been sold at Star Magic stores, in New York City and on the West Coast. Mandel's 2nd instrumental collection, "The Secrets of Marital Bliss", was composed in a multi-track MIDI sequencer environment, leading to its blend of high-tech sound and the gutsy feel of his rock "roots." "Further Adventures", continued the journey into newer realms of musical and self exploration, and a fourth collection of compositions, entitled "Road Games," is now complete, as he is finally home from the road, perhaps only for a while. He has also composed and recorded a song cycle based on the touring experience, entitled "Starlight," featuring the vocals and writing talents of Marianne Faithful, John Waite, Joe Cerisano, Fran Eckert, Jeff Southworth and Pete Hewlett. In the nineties, Mandel compiled the following CD's of his instrumental compositions: "Watusi (the Tribe Gets Down) b/w Mello' Magic," "Themes for Dreams" (his favorite), "Groan Up", "Virtual Rock(just add vocals)", "Tearful but Cheerful", "Setsuko's Inner Journey" (new age piano), "Music for Insomniax II" (sleepy synths),and recently, "Every Dog" and "The Enlightenment of Age", 2 collections of his songs sung by him. These collections are available at and also now, at the Apple iTunes Store. He has put together a pile of songs demo'd by and intended for other singers, and "Sea of Simile" is now a soundtrack/radio-play, as well as an 87 minute DVD Cartoon-Opera. Like many other musical artists, now he's into graphic arts / Photoshop as well.
    Mandel's first movie music was composed in 1976, when with Brad (The Terminator) Feidel, he scored the soundtrack for the AVCO-Embassy film, "Deadly Hero". It stars James Earl Jones (as a gallant kidnapper who quotes King Lear), and Don Murray, (as the trigger happy cop who blows him away). He also scored "Up Up and Away," starring the All American Girls in 1982, and "Wunderkind," an "experimental" film, in 1984. One of his secret skills is playing piano at Silent Movies. He has also composed and recorded jingles for Antonovich Furs (sorry, Greenpeace!), Gorton's Fish Product, Fa (European) bath soaps, and The City of St. Louis Tourism Bureau, as well as played as a sideman on campaigns for Coke, Cadillac, Promise, Starburst, Chemical Bank, and Chevrolet, among others.
    The long-awaited memoirs, formerly titled"
Famous A*holes I Have Known, (or) 'I'll Never Work Again” now resides on his hard disk and Palm Pilot and is ready to beam to perspective publishers, as soon as negotiations with (any) Literary Agent are completed and a more suitable title found. "RockTales - One from the Road" is the current front runner.
    In1984. he married his former manager, a practicing psychanalist. His daughters were blessedly born in 1987 and 1991. His father, Joe Mandel, once the catcher on the U of Pennsylvania Baseball Team, lace importer, real estate mogul and golfer, died in 1979, and is now breaking par four days a week with his ancestors. The twin sister still rocks daily as an elementary school music teacher in Long Island, New York. (Chairman of her district's Music Department, she's quite a performer herself, leading huge choirs of kids and composing for and conducting holiday shows as well.) His mother, after outrunning Adolf Hitler through Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Italy, France and Portugal in 1939-41, settled in New York City, where she is now studying computers and German cinema. (Mom has since passed away.)
    Back in 1981, Mandel collapsed on stage at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland, while playing an Ian Hunter concert. He was later diagnosed with a cerebral aneurysm, but not till after he played 2 more concerts with Ian, at Cobo Hall in Detroit, and Park West in Chicago. . . Dr. Robert Ratcheson, head of Neurosurgery at University Hospital in Cleveland, successfully operated 8 days later. Ever since then, people expect strange things from Mandel. The fact is that he was equally strange before he underwent brain-surgery!
    After trips to Paris, Australia, and the Far East, including Vietnam, India, Bahrain, Thailand, Korea, and Japan (for the tenth time), and a 2 month tour with Richie Sambora, Mandel has been staying 'in town.’ He's busy writing, bringing up his daughters, looking at colleges, etc. and working at Sarah Lawrence College himself, as Musical Director of their Theater Department. For the curious, some of his current gigs are listed on Another movie soundtrack, TV work, and successful distribution of his New Music collections, as well as eventual productions, live or animated, of his PopOperas, are the events "on the edge of sea and sky", to which he is irresistibly being drawn. Tommy Mandel lives in and around New York City, lives for visits with his two grown daughters, and cherishes his awesome girlfriend, a psychic, every chance he gets.

In the years since this document was created (2004) TommyMandel has released one more CD, “Curio-City –or- How I Got Myself Killed” and recently signed with , represented by a pair of Canadian DJ’s who release recordings of ethnic and world pop artists and techno-finds, on vinyl. He’s in three bands, Denis Leary (including S&D&R&R TV show’s recording band), Holidelic, and Nalani & Sarina, and is preparing a new collection of Synth-strumental pieces promoting well-being and reverence.

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